Confusion Highlights the Fire Authority Board Meeting

fire authority
Fire Authority board members Colin Bailey a representative from the village of Vicksburg and Randy Smith a representative of Brady Township, shake hands during an earlier meeting.

By Sue Moore

South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (SKCFA) members balked at a request for quick bylaws changes from Trustee Randy Smith after he announced he was leaving his post as Brady Township Supervisor in May and with it, his post on the Authority as of December 31.

By the end of a contentious December meeting, the board members insisted they’ll take a couple of months to discuss the changes with their respective village and township elected officials.

Brady said he expects to be replaced on the township board by Tracy Locey, who holds a paid position as treasurer of the fire authority. Serving on both the governing board and as a paid employee appeared to some other delegates to pose a potential conflict.

Smith presented a draft of bylaws to deal with that issue prepared by Craig Rolfe, the authority’s attorney. The draft was not made public at the meeting.

His announcement that Locey would fill his position appeared to blindside other authority members when Smith presented the bylaws changes he said would enable the transition to take place. Smith asked board members to flesh out the proposed changes and bring them to their respective township boards and village councils.

The bylaws changes would provide for hiring a recording secretary, a person who would also serve in a paid position as treasurer and retain a seat on the authority board – in the expectation that Locey would fill the post.

Some authority members complained about short notice. Smith said he had told board members in a closed meeting a year ago that he would retire in May and that the authority had done nothing in the meantime to prepare for the proposed changes.

Smith appeared to be asking other members for a vote at the December meeting, or at least to take the new wording back to their respective boards. But others said it isn’t clear if they had the power to make a change to bylaws without consulting their fellow elected officials.

Colin Bailey, representing Vicksburg, said Locey succeeding Smith on the authority board wasn’t the issue: The issue was the way Smith handled the matter. Locey, he indicated, is very qualified to fill a position on the board. She has served as administrator and treasurer for many years and has met and exceeded expectations in those posts.

No officers of the authority board are paid. Todd Carlin, Schoolcraft village’s representative, said the issue should have gone to the human resources committee and then to each unit’s board for discussion as it has the potential to change the budget numbers.

Locey said she would only be paid as treasurer since only five percent of her time is allotted as administrator. Locey said there are ways to work around this issue.

Although Smith had said he would leave the fire Authority as of Dec. 31, he later indicated that Brady Township’s board would choose to keep him on the authority’s board for now. The township did so.

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